In an ostentatiously choreographed grandstand play Thursday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) melodramatically announced he was scuttling high-level talks with Vice President Joe Biden over the normally pro forma raising of the nation's debt ceiling in what many have described as an especially vulgar display of pandering to right-wing uber-lobbyist Grover Norquist and his plutocrat-coddling plunderers of America's wealth.
"The reality here is that, until our Republican colleagues are more concerned about the need to reduce the deficit than they're worried about what Grover Norquist will say, we're going to have a really difficult time reducing the deficit," said Rep. Chris Van Hollern (D-MD), who had participated in the Biden talks to raise the nation's debt ceiling so the federal government could continue to fund operations, send out Social Security and Medicare checks, and pay off existing obligations.
Norquist and his Americans for Tax Relief syndicate have all but taken over the Republican Party, which has devolved into a special interest machine seeking ever more and greater tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for the ultra-rich, funded by ever more and greater spending cuts destroying Americans' ability to govern their nation.
"I don't believe now is the time to raise taxes," Cantor smirked despite the nation's critical revenue crisis.
Norquist and ATR don't believe anytime is the time to raise taxes. Norquist, a known confederate of convicted terrorists Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi and Dr. Sami Amen Al Arian, has vowed he would gut America and drown it in a bathtub, and his scheme to destroy America by transferring all its wealth to his international plutocrat cronies has found legions of supporters among rich tax-dodgers and the ignorant poor.
Al-Amoudi, convicted of illegal dealings with Libya and plotting to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, and Al Arian, guilty of conspiring with designated Palestinian terror groups, funded Norquist's so-called Islamic Institiute. Norquist famously palled around with convicted scammer Jack Abramoff, and the two of them, along with Faith and Freedom Coalition organizer Ralph Reed, have been scamming folks since their college days.
Cantor's grandstanding walkout broke up Biden's efforts to build a framework for a debt ceiling agreement.
"I know the frustration that he feels," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), "Democrat members continue to want to bring tax hikes into the conversation, and insist that we've got to raise taxes on the American people." Well, not exactly the American people, but ultra-wealthy trans-national plutocrats who like to reside in the United States and take advantage of its luxurious living standards without paying for them.
Van Hollern said Democrats had offered Republicans, "a menu of eliminating different kinds of special interest tax breaks and dealing with tax exemptions for the very wealthy."
"Yes, we do want to reduce tax subsidies for Big Oil," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "We want to remove tax breaks for corporations that send jobs overseas, the list goes on."
Now that the Biden talks have collapsed, Pelosi insisted she be included in any deficit reduction talks going forward. Pelosi had been excluded from talks during the recent 2011 Budget-slashing deal-making when Republicans threatened a government shutdown. Having gotten $39 billion in spending-cut funded tax subsidies for their wealthy minders, Republicans still couldn't muster enough votes to pass their deal, and Pelosi had to bail Boehner out with Democratic votes on a budget deal she'd had no part in forging.
Pelosi now appeared determined to have a seat at the table, as numerous Republicans have pledged they'd nix any debt ceiling hike under any circumstances, and Norquist sycophants were intransigent even on eliminating loopholes on depreciation schedules for corporate jets, making Democratic votes for any deal a critical reality.
Pelosi wasn't impressed with Cantor's grandstanding and Republican intransigence. "Leader Cantor can't handle the truth when it comes to these tax subsidies for big oil, for corporations sending jobs overseas, for giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country while they're asking seniors to pay more for less as they abolish Medicare," Pelosi told CNN's State of the Union.
"We cannot balance the budget solely on the backs of the middle class," said James Clyburn (D-SC).
Biden and President Barack Obama were to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) separately Monday to resume horse-trading.
"In the Bush years, the Republicans said that tax cuts will produce jobs," Pelosi said. "They didn't. They produced a deficit."
Decades of coddling the ultra-wealthy with tax breaks have concentrated 84% of America's wealth in the hands of 20% of Americans. Norquist and the Republicans have their sights set on the rest.